Do I Have Allergies Or A Cold
You wake up with watery eyes, a stuffy nose and congested sinuses. This is the worst, you think to yourself. Youre clearly coming down with something but is it allergies, or a full-on cold?
Although the two have some similar symptoms, there are also key differences and once you learn to tell them apart, you can figure out the best way to treat your symptoms and get some relief. Read on to find out more with Flonase.
What Causes Respiratory Allergies
If you have allergies, you are not alone. Nearly 50 million other Americans have them, too. In fact, allergies are the fifth leading chronic, or long-term, disease in the United States, and the third most common chronic disease among children under 18-years-old.
Allergic reactions are caused by an over-reactive immune system. Sometimes the body mistakes a harmless substance for a dangerous invader. This results in a release of chemicals from immune cells, which can cause sneezing, itchy, runny nose or eyes, rashes or hives, inflamed eyes, skin, or lungs. In severe allergic reactions, whole body reactions may require immediate medical attention.
Is My Itchy Nose A Symptom Of Coronavirus Is My Itchy Nostrils And Itchy Outside Nose A Covid
An itchy, ticklish nose can be irritating, and, sometimes, it just doesnt go away! Although nasal congestion and a runny nose are symptoms of coronavirus according to the CDC, an itchy nose, itchy outside nose, and itchy nostrils are not common symptoms of coronavirus infection. If, however, your itchy nose or nostrils is accompanied by other symptoms commonly associated with the coronavirus, you may need to consider getting tested to see if you have an active coronavirus infection.
Other symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- New loss of taste or smell
- For more symptoms, please refer to the CDC website.
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Is It A Sinus Infection A Cold Or Allergies
Your nose is stuffed and your head is pounding. Here’s how to tell if a cold, allergies, or a sinus infection is to blame.
A stuffy nose and headache are common symptoms of many illnesses. So how can you tell whether the culprit is a sinus infection, a common cold, or allergies when the symptoms of these three conditions are so similar?
“It can sometimes be difficult even for doctors to differentiate,” says Alan B. Goldsobel, MD, an allergist at Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California and an adjunct associate professor at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, California. But there are some key differences that can give you some clues. Get to know more about the symptoms of these three conditions to help you pinpoint the cause of your sinus congestion:
A Sinus Infection
- What it feels like: You can expect a stuffy nose, but also some runny, discolored mucus, Goldsobel explains. You may also experience a sore throat, cough, sneezing, headache, or fatigue. Another sign is a rising temperature: Colds often trigger a fever, he says, but sometimes those fevers are so mild that people think they have allergies instead.
- What triggers it: A virus.
- How long it lasts: People usually fend off the cold virus within seven to 10 days, Baroody says. But if your symptoms have lingered past that window of time, you might have sinusitis. If you suspect you have a sinus infection, you should talk to your doctor.
An Allergic Reaction
Treatments For An Allergy
Doctors can identify allergy triggers through serum and skin tests. They can then develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Salt is a natural decongestant. Therefore, a person can also use natural remedies such as a saline nasal spray to try to relieve allergic symptoms, including a runny nose or congestion. Another option is a nasal saline rinse with a neti pot.
Other natural treatments that may help include:
- eating a healthy balanced diet to boost the immune system
- taking fish oil
However, a person should always try such methods in consultation with their doctor.
Prevention is also often part of a plan to treat allergies. Once the allergen has been identified, individuals should avoid it as much as possible. When avoiding an allergen is not possible, a person can treat symptoms differently from cold treatment.
People can treat allergies with the following medications:
- over-the-counter decongestants
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Is It Allergies Or A Cold
Cold and allergy symptoms often overlap, so its easy to mistake cold symptoms for allergies, and vice versa. Understanding the cause of your symptoms helps you choose the right treatment. It also gives you a better picture of your overall health.
Clinicians use the 5 factors below to help distinguish between colds and allergies.
Reasons Youre Waking Up With A Stuffy Nose When Youre Not Sick
Stuffy noses are never fun. But they’re especially bothersome first thing in the morning, when mucus and congestion can sap your energy and turn you into a dripping, zombie-like mess.
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Often the problem has a straightforward answer, like a cold or another viral infection that’ll usually ease up on its own within a week. But there are plenty of other things that can inflame and irritate your nasal tissues, leaving you with a stuffy nose in the morning, says Abbas Anwar, MD, a board-certified otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Here are 11 reasons why you might be waking up congested that have nothing to do with a cold. Plus, the expert-recommended strategies to help you breathe a little easier.
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How You Can Tell The Difference Between Cold And Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
With both allergies and colds, its typical to have congestion or a runny nose, and to sneeze often. You may also feel tired and drowsy. But there are several other symptoms that dont often overlap between allergies and a cold. Here are some of the telltale differences between cold symptoms and allergy symptoms.
Horizontal Nasal Line Indicates Possible Allergy
When children rub their nostrils up and down and wiggle their nose side to side, the movement creates a wrinkle or crease on top of their nose. Often, the line or crease is white or reddish in color. “If a child has been dealing with an itchy, sneezy, runny nose for weeks, and we see a horizontal line on the nose, we suspect allergies,” explains Dr. Lee. “That crease is pretty much exclusive to allergy sufferers who rub their nose.”
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Your Eyes Are Itchy And Watery
While you might notice some redness or discomfort around your eyes when you’re sick with a cold, it’s more likely that allergies are causing eye symptoms like watering and itching, Dr. Rosenstreich said.
Your nose and throat might feel itchy with a cold, said Dr. Metcalfe, but a cold usually doesn’t affect the eyes. Allergies may also cause some swelling around the eyes, added Dr. Parikh.
How Can I Prevent Colds And Allergies
To avoid catching a virus and spreading colds:
- Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, which are the areas of your body most vulnerable to germs.
To avoid seasonal allergies:
- Try to limit your contact with the allergens you react to.
- If your allergies bother you a lot, immunotherapy may help reduce or even completely prevent irritating symptoms.
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It’s Probably Allergies If:
Your mucus is clear or watery. And it will stay clear, instead of becoming thick or discolored like it can with a cold, says Michael Benninger, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Your eyes are itchy or watery. It’s rare to have itchy eyes when you have a cold.
Your symptoms stay the same. “Allergies may feel extra intense for the first day or 2, but you’ll have the same symptoms day after day,” Benninger says.
You’ve had the sniffles for more than a week. A cold usually clears up in 7 to 10 days, but allergies can last several weeks or longer.
Your symptoms show up only in certain situations. Find yourself sneezing every spring or fall? Those are common times for allergies. Another allergy tip-off: Being in a specific place makes you feel miserable — for example, in a house with a cat.
Treating Seasonal Allergies In Children
- Minimize symptoms at home by washing clothes after being outside, vacuuming often and using air filters and purifiers.
- Try a non-sedating oral antihistamine, such as Zyrtec or Claritin. Your child should get relief within a day or two.
- If the antihistamine helps, but not much, add a nasal steroid such as over-the-counter Flonase which you spray into the nose. Sometimes you need both antihistamine and nasal spray to control allergies.
- You can also try nasal spray only. If your child gets relief, skip the oral antihistamine.
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Allergies Usually Do Not Cause Wet Coughs
While coughing is often a symptom of both allergies and colds, the type of cough for each is different. A cold cough is wet and hacking, and typically produces mucus or phlegm that gets progressively thicker, often taking on a green or yellow tinge.
Allergies can cause a cough that feels like you have a tickle in your throat. Thats because allergens often irritate the lining of your nose, which triggers your nasal passages to create a watery mucus. This can drip out of your nose and down the back of your throat, creating that tickling sensation. This is referred to as post-nasal drip.
Allergies Don’t Come With A Fever
Youve probably heard the term hay fever, but dont let it confuse you. Hay fever is just another term for seasonal allergies and isnt associated with an actual fever.
If youre experiencing a high fever , it is not caused by an allergy. Sometimes, the common cold can cause fever. If youre burning up, this is actually most likely the result of the flu, rather than a cold.iv, v
However, since colds can occasionally cause fever too, its best to consult a healthcare professional about your overall symptoms to get an accurate diagnosis.
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When Should You See A Doctor About A Stuffy Nose
According to Dr. Singh, stuffy noses typically do not last longer than a couple of weeks. If youve tried all of the above solutions and youre still stuffed up after that , get a doctors opinion. Try your PCP or get the opinion of an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
Your conversation with your healthcare professional will determine the next steps of care, which might include nasal swab testing to evaluate for infections such as Covid-19.
In other instances, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed if the cause of nasal congestion is felt to be a bacterial infection, Dr. Singh says. In very severe cases, you may be referred for either facial imaging studies or may undergo direct visualization of the nasal passages using specialized cameras in-office procedures or advanced surgical operations to address any significant underlying problems.
The bottom line: A stuffy nose is usually able to be treated at home. If 14 days pass and youre still miserable, contact a doctor to see if theres an underlying cause that home treatments havent been able to tackle.
What Causes Rhinitis
Irritants or allergens may cause rhinitis. The cells of your body react to these irritants or allergens by releasing histamine and other chemicals. Rhinitis is often a temporary condition. It clears up on its own after a few days for many people. In others, especially those with allergies, rhinitis can be a chronic problem. Chronic means it is almost always present or recurs often. Rhinitis can last for weeks to months with allergen exposure.
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When To See A Doctor
Most causes of morning congestion should ease up within a week or two, either on their own or with simple lifestyle changes. But if your symptoms aren’t getting better after 10 to 14 days, see your doctor to have the problem evaluated, Dr. Jang says.
Pay attention to congestion paired with any of the following red flags, too:
- Persistent high fever
- Eye swelling or vision changes
- Unexplained headaches
Chronic Stuffy Nose: Is It Allergies Or Sinusitis
Sometimes, despite aggressive allergy treatment, nasal congestion persists. Its possible that the culprit is sinusitis.
Sinusitis, not to be confused with rhinitis, is characterized by inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses. Swelling can cause sinus drainage passages to become blocked and mucus to accumulate. This can lead to symptoms of facial pressure, nasal congestion, and drainage of thick, discolored mucus.
Allergies are one several sources of inflammation in the sinuses. When you have allergies, your immune system tries to fight off harmless substances known as allergens . In doing so, the immune system causes inflammation that results in swelling of the nasal passages and sinuses as well as increased mucus production.
Sinusitis can also develop after a cold or other viral infection.
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Allergies Follow A Pattern And Symptoms Tend To Stick Around Longer
If you have allergies, your symptoms will flare up at certain times throughout the year when the allergens youre sensitive to are present. For example, if you have a tree pollen allergy, your symptoms will first appear in the early spring.
This also means that your symptoms can last for several weeks until that particular allergy season has ended. To put that into perspective, colds usually only last about a week.
Cold viruses are present all year, so you can catch one at any time. However, the winter cold season is when getting sick is more likely.
It’s Allergies Or Environmental Irritants
It’s no secret that seasonal allergens like pollen or grass can make you stuffy in the morning. But if your bedroom is home to environmental irritants, you might also find yourself waking up congested, Dr. Jang says.
Dust mites, pet hair, cockroaches and mold are some of the most common culprits, but for some people, cigarette smoke, strong odors , cleaning products and air pollution or smog can also pose problems, per the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology .
âFix it:â If you know seasonal allergens are the problem, get serious with your allergy-management strategies.
If you suspect an environmental irritant like dust is to blame, improving your indoor air quality by getting rid of the culprit should solve your congestion problem. For instance, you can minimize your exposure to dust or pet dander by encasing your bedding in sealed covers, eliminating fabrics that tend to collect dust particles and keeping pets out of your bedroom, Dr. Jang says.
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Home Treatment Options For Every Illness
Figuring out what you have is crucial for helping prevent the spread of transmissible diseases. It can also help you choose the right treatments. Heres what to do:
Keep your distance. Stay away from others if youre not feeling well regardless of whether its COVID-19 or not, Dr. Kadaj says.
If you have a sore throat, cough, body aches and especially fever, you should assume its COVID-19 until you test negative. A PCR test taken at a doctors office or testing clinic is the most accurate option, Dr. Schachter says. If you test positive with an at-home rapid test, you should follow up with your doctor to confirm your diagnosis.
If it is COVID-19, follow the current quarantine protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Treat it at home. The same treatments can often apply to colds, flu and COVID, Dr. Schachter says. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for headaches and mild fever, antihistamines for a stuffy nose, and lozenges and throat gargles for a sore throat. Drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest.
Be alert. Pay close attention to your symptoms, especially if you’re COVID-19 positive. Keep in touch with your physician if youre older, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or are obese, Dr. Schachter says. These could put you at risk of more severe issues, and you should alert your doctor if youre feeling sick.
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How Can You Treat A Stuffy Nose
If you have a stuffy nose on its own, you can take steps to treat it at home. Dr. Singh recommends the following remedies:
1) Over-the-counter antihistamines, which can help reduce sniffling and sneezing caused by allergies, which in turn reduces mucus production.
2) Steroid nasal sprays which can reduce inflammation of the nasal passages that are brought on by allergies.
3) Nasal saline sprays and irrigation washes, which can work to soften mucus and wash it out of the nasal cavity alongside any irritating infections or allergic particles.
4) Using a steam inhaler to thin out mucus and promote easier drainage.
5) Medicated ointments containing ingredients such as eucalyptus, peppermint, or camphor. When applied to the upper chest, they vaporize and act as natural decongestants while also providing a cool, soothing sensation to the nasal passages.
Be aware that over-the-counter medicated nose drops can sometimes create rebound congestion, meaning they work for a while, but your stuffiness never completely goes away.
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